Edward Willis Redfield, an American Impressionist landscape painter, was born in 1869 in Bridgeville, Delaware. He moved to Philadelphia as a child and lived much of his life near New Hope in Bucks County. There he became the leader of a group of artists known as the New Hope Impressionists. He painted many landscapes, paying special attention to panoramic snowscenes of the area. He used techniques opposing those of French Impressionism: thick paint application on large canvases with long brush strokes.
Redfield showed artistic talent at an early age. From 1887 to 1889, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. There he met and befriended Robert Henri. Edward Willis Redfield later studied at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts in France under Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. While in Europe, he was inspired by the works of Impressionist painters Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Fritz Thaulow. Redfield met Elise Deligant during his time in France, whom he married in 1893. He and his wife returned to Pennsylvania in 1898 and settled in Center Bridge in Bucks County near New Hope. His presence in the area lured many younger artists to Bucks County, making it a nucleus for the American Impressionist movement.
The Impressionist landscape paintings of Edward Willis Redfield are noted for their bold application of paint and vibrant color. He painted en plein air, working from nature rather than in a studio. He exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad. He also won an array of awards, including a Bronze medal, Paris Exposition (1900); Bronze Medal, Pan-American Exposition (1901); Temple Medal (1903), Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal (1904), Gold Medal of Honor (1907), Lippincott Prize (1912), and Stotesbury prize (1920), all from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Silver medal (1904), St. Louis Exposition; Fischer Prize and Gold Medal (1908) form the Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Honorable Mention (1908) and Third Class Medal (1909), Paris Salon; Palmer Gold Medal (1913), Chicago Art Institute; Hors Concous Prize (1915), Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco; Carnegie Prize (1918), Altman Prize (1919), and Saltus Medal (1927), National Academy of Design.
Redfield’s paintings are included in museums and public collections, such as the Boston Museum of Art, Brooklyn Art Institute, Carnegie Institute, Chicago Art Institute, Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Twenty-seven of his paintings were featured at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.
A harsh critic of his own art, in 1947 he burned hundreds of his paintings that he regarded as inferior. Edward Willis Redfield died on October 9, 1965 at the age of 96.